With most sports on hold and the 2020-21 season still months out, it’s time to take a look at teams from all over the State of Hockey and examine what happened this past season and what’s ahead. The next team we’re breaking down is River Lakes
How last season went
The Stars got things going well early and never looked back as they won five of their first seven games. From there, River Lakes sat well above .500 and played close against quality Class 1A opponents such as Monticello.
River Lakes ended the regular season with a 14-9-1 record, good enough for fourth place in the Central Lakes Conference. Going into a tough Section 6A, the Stars matched up against Breckenridge/Wahpeton in the play-in round. River Lakes prevailed with a 3-2 win.
Unfortunately for the Stars, that meant playing against top-seed and defending Class 1A state champion St. Cloud Cathedral. The Crusaders proved to be too much for River Lakes as the Stars saw their season come to an end.
Who’s back and who’s gone
River Lakes’ success was in part thanks to some quality senior leadership. Logan Stellmach and Griffin Duininck combined for 28 goals and 47 assists. Ethan Howard also played a key role as he poured in 11 goals and 15 assists.
That means next year’s Stars team will be tasked with replacing these three key skaters. One player who appears to be up to the challenge is Tanner Stanley, who is set to return after a 24-point season (13 goals, 11 assists).
Another thing River Lakes can lean on during the 2020-21 season is a pair of goaltenders who return after getting significant run at the varsity level. Drew Tangen returns after posting a 1.71 goals against average and .934 save percentage in 16 games. Meanwhile, Josh Venable also proved capable of manning the net with a 2.77 GAA and .888 SV% in 11 games.
What to expect next season
The regular season was filled with positives for the Stars. However, they had a tough time making noise in their section. That appears to be the next step for this squad. River Lakes will have to accomplish this while replacing some key scorers in Stellmach, Duininck and Howard.